DOS - 1997
Description of War Inc.
Welcome to the Granite Corporation
After going through the install (which is an old fashioned DOS install, by the way), I decided to forgo the documentation and start the game. A short introductory movie sets up the atmosphere right away. You are the head of the Granite Corporation, a company which specializes in performing high-tech mercenary missions. As a 21st century company, Granite insists on using only the most professional equipment and technology, which it manufactures itself. As the new CEO of Granite (the last CEO was murdered by, you guessed it, a team of high-tech mercenaries), your job is to command various combat missions, develop new technologies, and, above all else, make lots and lots of money.
The beginning of the manual reads like an employee brief from a Dilbert cartoon, with headings like "Our People Are Our Greatest Asset", and "Granite: A Foundation for Success", complete with footnotes like "1. Natural-born employees should receive a copy of Document #4428, Complete Benefits Guide. Clones should receive a copy of Document #4429, Abbreviated Benefits Guide for Cloned Employees." I thought, "What a neat way to start a game!"
Life as the Big Cheese
After watching the intro movie, I was flung directly into a real-time battle, unlike what the manual said. This was one of a few inconsistencies I found between the documentation and the game. Anyway, I found my way to the main menu somehow and started a new game.
As CEO of Granite Corporation, your office is your home. The office looks really slick, complete with a running stock ticker, a computer terminal, and very nice view. There are three primary activities you engage in from your office - playing the stock market, playing with technology, and taking on missions. As we'll see, as a real-time strategy game, War Inc. does everything well except for the real-time strategy part.
Bulls and Bears
Your goal is to make as much money as possible. One way to do this is by investing (gambling) in the stock market. War Inc. has a complete miniature stock market simulator, with approximately sixty stocks in twelve different sectors represented. In addition to the current price, you can see a graph of the last 270 days as well as the P/E ratio (that's price-to-earnings in case stocks aren't your thing). Brief reports are also available on company strategies and history. While all of this information may be a little daunting at first, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to buy low and sell high. Even so, if you just aren't interested in playing the stock market in a real-time strategy game (gosh, why ever could that be?), you can have your finances managed for you, which will generate a modest amount of interest on your cash (usually around 8%).
One neat thing about the stock market is that if you acquire a company by purchasing over 50% of its shares, you will get a benefit in your technology production in that sector. For instance, if I acquire a company in computers, I might be able to research a new type of targeting computer.
Research and Development
One thing that can definitely be said for War Inc. is that it gives you full control over unit design. You start the game with three basic unit designs, and the rest is up to you. You may have as many as twenty different unit designs in the game at any given time. To design a unit, you pick a hull type (ie, light tank, heavy tank, chopper, etc.), and then add the weapons, engine, shield, armor, special items, and everything else. There are many, many different combinations possible, with different tradeoffs. Larger engines generate more power, but cost more RUs (Resource Units) to build. More armor means more weight, less speed. You get the idea. Developing prototypes costs money, so you need to plan your unit designs carefully.
While the design system in War Inc. is very flexible, you can't just plunk together any old design. Not at first, anyway. At the beginning of the game, you only have a few different kinds of hulls, weapons, armor, and other stuff available to you. To design stronger units, you need to research new technologies. To do this, you hire scientists (they cost a certain amount a day) and assign them to different research areas. Want that titanium armor soon? Just assign a lot of scientists to researching armor. How about that chopper hull? Research hulls. You have to be careful not to hire too many scientists, though, or you'll run out of money.
And the Real-time Strategy?
OK, so what about the actual missions? With manual in hand, I stepped into the first mission. I was greeted with a 21st century email program, complete with a video and voice over. They certainly didn't skimp on atmosphere in this game. Anyway...
Each mission takes place in a different tactical area. In each area, you have a base HQ, as well as primary, secondary, and tertiary "objectives". Each "objective" is located at a different place on the map, and to complete a mission successfully, you have to complete each "objective". You enter real-time battles (although sometimes you may just be building units in your base HQ) when 1) You send a group of units to an "objective" 2) One of your groups of units is attacked 3) You enter your base HQ.
Anyway, you always need to start by entering your base HQ. On my first mission, I was immediately underwhelmed by the graphics. The units are sprites a la Red Alert, only chunkier. The graphics for the infantry are particularly hard to make out. When you first enter base HQ, all you really need to do is plunk down some buildings and build some units. I found this to be a really tedious way to start a game. There are two resources - ore, which is extracted using mines, and money. Ore is used to create all the vehicles, while money is used for everything else. Ore sites can run out, so you do have limited resources in that respect.
Once you have your base HQ set up, you build some units, and then exit to the tactical map. From there, you can create up to four different squads, or groups of units, and send them off to the "objectives". Once they reach the "objectives", battle begins.
Everything That Can Go Wrong
Every real-time strategy battle in War Inc. involves the same basic concept. Explore the map (which has full fog-of-war), and destroy everything that needs to be destroyed to complete the objective. You can divide your groups up into teams as with every other real-time strategy game I've played. However, there is one infuriating limitation. The only way to group units is to drag a box around them - there is no way to "shift click" them. This means that every time you want to form a squad, you need to move the units into an area that you can select with a box. Talk about your design flaws...
When you give an order for a unit (or units) to move, you can see a small yellow line that shows you the route the units will take to get to their destination. Pretty neat, huh? Only one problem - somehow, your units can see through the fog of war when plotting their routes! You can discover obstacles in this way before you have even seen them.
Which brings me to another annoying thing. Sometimes when you order a group of units to move to a location, some of them don't move. They get stuck. You need to individually select them and goad them on. I'm sorry, but as CEO of a 21st century corporation I just don't have time for this.
These are just the most glaring problems. There are lots of other annoying ones left for you to discover. These are the kinds of issues that should be resolved in beta testing.
It didn't take me long to discover that the "strategy" required for War Inc. involves little more than "build some strong units, and send them in". That's it. The computer AI isn't very "I" at all, and the missions (at least the ones I played before getting tired with the game) have no real depth. Missions seem to take forever as you wait for your units to be constructed, wait as they march to their "objectives", and roam endlessly through graphically unimpressive terrain until they run into some equally unimpressive units to fight (at least you can alter the game speed). This is not my idea of fun.
Red Alert Inc.
There's one more thing I should mention. Clicking on a unit usually results in that unit responding in some way, just like in Red Alert. What's funny is that some of the responses are practically identical to those in Red Alert, as in "awaiting orders", "unit ready", "yes sir", and the like. Not to mention that the music is in the same style.
While War Inc. has a number of redeeming features, it fails in the most important area of all - real-time strategy. Not to mention the unimpressive graphics and frustrating user interface. Try as I might have, I just could not have fun during the real-time battles. If you're looking for a good real-time strategy gaming experience, I'd suggest looking at Total Annihilation or Dark Reign - these are games worthy of your consideration.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Lyses 2020-04-11 -2 points
Invest your money, research and development new technology, complete the mission. One of my favorite games when i was still young.
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